In 2016, Cornelius Ray was a high school senior from Brooklyn who talked passionately in an Admissions video about studying to be an actor. He knew exactly what he wanted to do, and he wanted Morehouse to help him do it.
Then, during his four years at Morehouse, something unexpected happened: “I fell out of love with the theater.”
What does a college graduate do after earning a degree from the institution that he loves but losing the passion that drove him to his field of study? Ray, the senior class president, is searching for his new path, in management or education possibly. And after four of lessons on leadership and perseverance at Morehouse, he knows that he will figure out what that new dream is, and how to make it a reality.
On Dec. 13, Ray will formally graduate with the Class of 2020 in Morehouse College’s online Commencement. He's looking forward to his next phase of life and is considering studying public policy in graduate school.
“I have a lot of my life to live,” he says. “So I’m just trying to get myself in a space where I figure out what I really want to do."
One thing Ray is considering, for example, is being a policy-maker in education. “There’s a disparity there (between students of color and others),” he explains. “I want to close the opportunity gap.”
Ray, who was a theater & performance major with a political science minor, has always enjoyed working with students. He’s part of the NYC Urban Ambassadors program, helping young men in New York City get leadership training and mentorship. And for of his years as a Morehouse, Ray was a resident advisor.
He also served as president of the senior class, a role he has continued to fill, since Commencement for the Class of 2020 was postponed until December.
The congenial young man is also contemplating a return to Morehouse someday, possibly after earning a master’s degree in public policy. “I’d like to work in the Office of Student Life, basically in the same field as Kevin Booker (associate dean),” says Ray. “With a master’s degree, I could go down the political route or into education. It leaves the door open for anything in the public field.”
And if he does go to graduate school, Ray would like to attend another HBCU. “I’m pretty sure they’d look out for me.”
Ray credits Morehouse with looking out for him well over four years—giving him the freedom to find himself as a person. “And, for me, it was judgment free.”
He feels a special debt of gratitude to: Maurice Washington, (Vice president of Student Services and Dean of the College), “my first go-to person who knew me as a New Yorker”; Booker, “who took me under his wing”; Diedra Cecile Haydel, a Spanish instructor who is “someone students can talk to, whatever it is”; and Michael Patterson, a Morehouse history professor. “He’d talk to me and tell me how it is,” explains Ray. “Sometimes you just need people can be straightforward with you.”
Whatever his new career path is, Ray knows that his parents will be there for him. They didn’t guide him down a narrow path, he says, but have always been supportive. “My family at home stands behind me.”
Ray is excited about the journey that awaits. And he knows that his own character traits and Morehouse education will help him on the way.
“I’m very determined and motivated… and I’m very straight-forward. Nothing will stop me.”
Ray credits Morehouse with looking out for him well over four years—giving him the freedom to find himself as a person. “And, for me, it was judgment free.”Cornelius Ray, Class of 2020